Improving Reproductive efficiency of a Murrah Buffalo

Reproduction is the process of conceiving and delivering a calf by a lactating(currently milking) buffalo. This article covers only about buffaloes which are already lactating and does not cover heifers giving birth for the first time (I will discuss about this in a separate article on managing heifers).

The reproductive efficiency of a lactating Murrah buffalo depends on many factors. These factors can be broadly classified under genetic and external factors. The genetic factors are specific to the buffalo like pattern of oestrus cycle and oestrus behaviour, length of breeding, ovulation rate, lactational anoestrus period, post-partum anoestrus, inter-calving period and reproductive life span. External factors are thermal stress,feed provided, etc. External factors can be easily controlled by the farmer. A combination of these factors determine the breeding efficiency of a Murrah Buffalo.

The oestrus cycle refers to the phase when the female is sexually receptive ("in heat"). This is also called as heat cycle. The oestrus cycle varies between 21 and 29 days depending on the animal. The total duration of oestrus/heat is usually 24 hours but varies from 12 to 72 hours. The most reliable sign of oestrus/heat is frequent urination. A lactating animal may have a slight decrease in milk yield when in heat. Sometimes the buffalo may be more restless and be difficult to milk. A bull can easily identify a buffalo in heat. The signs of oestrus are much less pronounced(detectable) in buffaloes than cows. Time of ovulation is about 10 to 14 hrs after end of oestrus/heat. Last 8 hours of heat period is maximum fertility. Gestation period (pregnancy duration) is 310 days or approximately 10 months. Period of involution of uterus is 25 to 35 days. Even though all the scientific information is very useful to know as a dairy farmer, the most important thing is to identify heat of the buffalo and mate it with a bull or perform artificial insemination.

Buffaloes have a high proportion of silent heat and short duration heat. This is one of the most important problems in buffalo reproductive efficiency. It is even more problematic during the hot and humid months when it is compounded by thermal stress. Susceptibility to heat stress also affects feed intake and in turn the nutritional balance, and this also inhibits reproductive efficiency. Short and silent oestrus is the main reason why heat is often undetected in buffalo.

Usually a buffalo comes to heat after 3 to 4 months after giving birth. But many buffalo's suffer from post-partum anoestrus, a complete absence of oestrus cycle and no signs of heat. This is one of the most common causes of buffalo infertility. If the buffalo is not coming to heat, consult your vetinery doctor. There are tablets which can make the buffalo come to heat.

Always note down when the buffalo gave birth and write down the approximate date when the buffalo will come to heat. It is advisable to display a wall chart or a board at the farm with details of calving date, expected heat date and the conceived date for every buffalo in the farm. This will allow the farmer and the workers to closely monitor the resproductiveness of all the buffaloes in the farm. And also, verify the pregnancy during vetinary doctor visit.

One of the most important factors in being a successful in dairy farming is to detect heat after calving and making the buffalo pregnant within 3 to 5 months after calving. Every heat cycle that goes undetected is a huge loss because you have to feed a non-pregnant animal for one more month. Many new dairy famers do not understand this factor and this is a prominent reason for failing in dairy farming.

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